“Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character presents forty-five years of work by this distinguished Chicago-based painter and draftsman. The exhibition, however, is not a conventional retrospective. Rather, it celebrates Nutt’s extraordinary achievement by focusing on the work of the past 20 years—his haunting and meticulously rendered portraits of imaginary women. A selection of earlier paintings and drawings is presented to showcase the artist’s unique creativity and trace the development of the imagery and formal devices Nutt has perfected in the ongoing portrait series. The exhibition, which is laid out roughly chronologically, also pairs a number of paintings with their graphite-on-paper studies in order to better elucidate Nutt’s artistic process.”

Snooper Trooper, 1967
Acrylic on Plexiglas, aluminum and steel; enamel on wood frame
39 x 21 in. (99 x 84.3 cm)
Courtesy the artist
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


“The imaginary portraits, so called because they are in the traditional format of a portrait while the figures come completely from Nutt’s vibrant imagination, are generally squarish in shape and modest in scale. They emerged in the mid-1980s, at which time Nutt’s titles became evocative but nonspecific one-syllable words, and explore the nature of line, color, and other formal interests within the motif of arresting and highly stylized faces. The luminous compositions are further enhanced by the dynamic relationship that occurs between the image and the artist-designed or painted frames, a long-standing characteristic of Nutt’s work.

This exhibition is organized by Lynne Warren, Curator.” mcachicago.org


Wiggly Woman, 1966
Acrylic on Plexiglas; aluminum frame
16 1/16 x 12 1/16 in. (40.7 x 30.5 cm)
Collection of Peter Dallos, Wilmette, Illinois
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago